As technicians, it is in our nature to always want to carry out repairs and fix broken air conditioners…we can’t run away from that; it’s in our DNA! However, at times customers only wish for their AC units to be “checked out” (or rather ‘tuned up) and nothing more than that – what do I say, it’s the nature of the business!
There’s the need to be always prepared in case you get called up for a tune-up. Being ready is not all about having the right tools ready but also knowing the right boxes to check. You need to know the things to crosscheck during a tune-up or preventive maintenance.
Is A Tune-Up Necessary?
Before looking at the tune-up list, first, we need to understand why we are doing this. What’s the importance of a tune-up?
For an HVAC system to perform at its best, it requires regular service. Consider an AC tune-up to be more like a car service – cars require service to perform optimally. An AC unit works hard to keep up with adverse weather conditions and requires proper care and maintenance.
Efficiency comes up the list as far as AC tune-ups. A minor alteration like an air filter change could go a long way in ensuring that a system operates better. Dirt and debris on components need to be cleaned, moving parts lubricated, and loose belts tightened to improve efficiency.
Tune-ups also prevent breakdown and repair. Regular checks and maintenance prevent further damages and costly repairs.
AC Tune-Up Checklist
What do you need to check any time you’re carrying out a tune-up? Here are some of the things that might require your attention.
· Replace/Clean Air Filters
The first thing you need to check in a conditioning unit is the air filter. Dirty filters usually restrict airflow, could damage the compressor or even cause a unit to ice up. Clean up dirty air filters or replace them entirely if necessary. Don't leave dirty filters behind, bag them up and dispose of them. You'd be amazed how many technicians find discarded filters flying around on a roof.
· Clean The Condenser Coils
Condenser coils, in most cases, are much easier to clean than evaporator coils. You could use a spray nozzle or a garden hose. If you need to do a thorough job, remove the fan motor and spray it from the inside. Before cleaning the condenser, always make sure that the power and the thermostat are switched off.
· Clean The Evaporator Coils
If your client cleans their evaporator every other year, the evaporator should be pretty easy to clean. To clean, you need a coil cleaning solution and a soft brush (with bristles). Spray hot water to wash off this solution. We recently listed all the tools you need to ensure coils are kept nice and clean.
· Check System Controls
Make sure that the unit in question is starting, working, and shutting correctly. You have to be sure that the system is operating safely and properly.
· Tighten Any Loose Electrical Connections
Make sure that all electrical connections are firm. You need to check some of these electrical connections, including lug nuts, wire nuts, and outdoor/inside disconnects. Unattended wires are hazardous and could cause arcing or even cause breakers to trip.
· Wipe The Air Handler
Wipe down the wires, blower housing, and the air handler in general. If there are dirt and debris on the blower wheel, wipe that too.
· Check The Refrigerant Charge
You also need to check the refrigerant charge to see if the system is working efficiently. Take amp draws on the indoor blower motor, fan motor, and the common compressor wire, then compare it to the nameplate to confirm if they’re up to the manufacturer’s specifications. Recharge if necessary. Check for oil leaks and always make sure to replace endcaps on all ports.
· Lubricate Moving Parts
Machines have a lot of enemies, and one of them is wear and tear. Friction can cause a lot of damages to moving parts. Make sure you lubricate any moving parts in the recommended areas. If you’re unsure, check the manufacturer’s manual to determine the areas to lubricate and the oil/grease to use.
· The Condensate Drain Line Requires Cleaning Too
And finally, if you’re not going to check another component, never forget to check the condensate drain line and pan – they are problematic and cause the most damage. A clogged drain line could cause water leaks, mold, bacteria, and other moisture and wetness-related issues.
There are different approaches you can use to clean the drain line. You can suck the line out using a wet/dry vacuum – this technic, however, tends to leave some slime sludge behind.
You can also use a gallo gun (a type of handheld air gun) or air compressor to blow the drain line clean…it gets the job done. Some people also choose to pour drain cleaner or bleach into the line, which might also work in some settings but may degrade the life of some pipes or joints. You can also choose to combine two methods at the same time. For instance, you can use the gallo gun together with a shop vac for an even better job. Especially with drain lines that haven't been cleaned in a while, it may take a combination of several attempts to get it clean.
This is also a good time to check the trap of the condensate line or to ensure any fittings, corners or other pieces of the line are working as they should.
I have a rule: A clean system will always be a happy system! And finally, these tune-ups are also a great time do document any damage you find on the system, and parts that will have to be replaced soon. Customers seldom see their systems and will rely on you to spot any issues. They are also an excellent time to sell maintenance agreements and other services that can help keep their equipment in top condition for years to come.